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Introduction by Gitti Hentschel


International Conference

The systematic exclusion of women from official peace processes
as detrimental effects“
EU Parliament Report 2000

When women are there, the nature of the dialogue changes
Elisabeth Rehn, in: Women, War and Peace, UNIFEM 2002

"If wed had women at Camp David, wed have an agreement."
Bill Clinton – in the aftermath of the failed Camp David talks in 2000i


The 10th anniversary of UN Resolution 1325 is a suitable occasion to take stock at both international and EU level, and in the Federal Republic of Germany, of how this Resolution, which has often been considered groundbreaking for woman and gender-equal peace and security policy, has been implemented politically up to now. The core content of the Resolution has, in many cases, been summarised by the “three Ps”: Prevention of armed conflicts, Participation of women in peace and security policy, and Protection against sexualised violence in armed conflicts. For the first time ever, the Security Council now also recognises the importance of civilian women’s groups in peace processes.

In the meantime, a fourth “P” has often been added: Prosecution – i.e. the criminal prosecution of perpetrators of gender-based violence in armed conflicts. This element has increased in significance since the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1820 which represents a specification of UNSCR 1325. Among other things this Resolution states that “… rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide …”. Together with the two UN Resolutions, 1888 and 1889, which followed in 2009, these Resolutions form a “four-tier foundation” to “peace, women, security”. Whilst it is true that UNSCR 1888/1889 do not go beyond 1325 and 1820, they do bundle these and postulate concrete implementation measures, including the appointment of special representatives and the systematic collection of data. As a result, Sweden’s Margot Wallström was appointed UN Special Representative for Fighting Violence against Women and Children in spring 2010.

These long overdue decisions were taken in the light of pressure and the increasing public discussion on mass acts of gender-based violence in (post-)conflict regions. Not least of all, the passing of such decisions is attributable to women’s and peace groups and civil society organisations in many parts of the world.

For many years, and in the present time in particular, these groups and organisations have been working flat out to publicise studies, analyses, reports, investigations, experiences and findings relating to armed conflicts and the (non-)implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 which continue to be associated with a virtually widespread gender-ignorant, (inter)national peace and security policy in spite of UNSCR 1325. For years, civil society expert groups have been highlighting the resulting additional conflict potential, security problems and deficits for crises and conflict regions; they have organised workshops, expert discussions and conferences on the development of gender-adequate conflict resolution strategies, have taken part in round table discussions and engaged in often tough political negotiations with government representatives and those representing regional associations such as the EU and AU as well as the UN. Political decision-makers have long since received not just demands to immediately meet the Resolution requirements – and thus provide a more sustainable peace and security policy – but also a number of concrete proposed actions and packages of measures, depending on the region and social conditions, which could advance the largely insufficient implementation of the Resolutions.

As before, the core demand calls for women and women’s peace groups to be afforded an equal share of involvement in political negotiations and decisions relating to conflict resolution, peace solutions and reconstruction in post-conflict societies. On this matter, an EU report drafted as early as 2000 commented as follows: “The systematic exclusion of women from official peace processes has detrimental effects on the long-term sustainability of a settlement”ii. And, at the very latest, with the publication of the 2002 UNIFEM study, it has been proven once and for all that “the full participation of women ... and their full involvement in all efforts for the prevention and resolution of conflicts [and in peace consolidation] are essential ...".iii It goes without saying that women do not have a peace-promoting impact or achieve better outcomes in talks merely because of their biological gender. Yet, through the gender-specific division of tasks and the different living conditions and experiences associated with this in the majority of societies, which, among other things, attribute specific responsibility for children to women, women do develop other competencies and negotiating strategies. In their actions and deeds, they often take a more mediating approach than men, insist more on civil conflict resolution and incorporate other topics and angles such as food, health education and ownership issues.iv As a result, ceasefire and peace talks conducted with the involvement of women produce more enduring and faster outcomes.

Despite this, the fundamental situation has not changed one iota in the last ten years: women remain widely excluded from core decisions and negotiating processes in the context of armed conflicts. According to a 2009 UNIFEM study, in 22 peace processes conducted since 1992 – including those for Afghanistan, Bosnia and Congo – only 7.5% of the negotiators, 2% of the mediators and not even 3% of the signatories were women. One case in point is the negotiations and treaty on the status of Kosovo (not just in 1999 but also 2007!). The Kosova Women's Network, which had developed cross-ethnical approaches to conflict resolution, was left out of the talks in spite of international protests of civil society groups – a failure on the part of both the UN and EU which acted as mediators during the status talks without once lobbying the cause for women.

In all other respects, the UN has barely taken its own Resolution requirements seriously either. In its 60-year existence, the UN has still not appointed a woman as Secretary-General. Only seven women hold the position of “Special Envoy of the Secretary-General”. In 2008, only one woman – in Liberia – headed a peacekeeping mission, with another seven acting as deputy heads of UN missions. Even in the 115,000 or so strong UN Peacekeeping Department, women have thus remained something of a rarity. Only some four percent of UN military staff, eight percent of the UN police force and 30 percent of its civilian staff were women in 2009. Not even the promise of staffing peacekeeping missions with gender advisors has been fulfilled to date. In 2008, only 13 such gender advisors were fully employed in peacekeeping missions. According to UN Special Envoy, Stephen Lewis, if things continue as they are, the goal of filling 50 percent of the workplaces in the UN’s Geneva Department with women will not be reached until 2072, and it will take until 2100 to reach the same goal in the New York Peacekeeping Department.

The results are equally poor for the National Action Plans (NAPs) for the implementation of UN Resolution 1325 which former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had petitioned the Member States of the United Nations to introduce as far back as 2006. Until now, only 24 of the 192 states have developed NAPs, these being 13 in Europe and eight in Africa. Certain countries are close to passing such action plans. Until now, the permanent member of UN Security Council and important actor concerning military intervention, the United States, have no NAP. And despite its increasing significance for European peace and security policy issues, and although it is a new non-permanent member in the UN Security Council since October 2010, Germany refuses to initiate an NAP. The present CDU/FDP coalition government under Chancellor Merkel is of the opinion that such an action plan is superfluous and that gender mainstreaming and two currently submitted action plans on civilian crisis prevention and violence against women are sufficient. However, these action plans do not cover the core elements of the UN Resolutions. As a result, Germany is a prime example of how to take an unsystematic and arbitrary approach towards implementing UNSCR 1325. In general, it can be said that the related projects which Germany promotes in conflict regions and post-conflict countries are purely measures aimed at promoting women’s rights, that they pursue no sustainable gender-political strategy whatsoever and have no enduring impact on the promotion of peace. Germany is thus setting an example of how important concrete and binding regulations in the shape of evaluation standards and criteria are – which civilian activists have been demanding for years – in order to assess how effective the implementation of the Resolutions has been. They must include specific timeframes for completing the individual implementation steps, but equally so a means of systematically collecting data and also provide for financial and human resources.

More recently, and certainly in view of the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, the UN and its Secretary-General as well as the European Council and other EU institutions have published a few remarkable documents.v Fundamentally, these now also share the following finding: in order to assess whether UNSCR 1325 et. seq. have actually been implemented, clear indicators and evaluation standards, including specifically defined monitoring instruments and bodies, are required.

The aim of this conference is to look back and to the future and conduct a critical review of the extent to which Resolution 1325 has been implemented. Whilst recognising the achievements, we also want to highlight the shortcomings and, in doing so, draw on current findings and conclusions with a view to illustrating and developing prospects for (new?) strategies. As part of this process, we have placed the focus of the second part of the conference on topics which go beyond the core issues of UN Resolution 1325, and we especially want to incorporate the more recent UN Resolutions, and, first and foremost, UNSCR 1820. We also wish to focus on elements which play a key role in the peaceful settlement of conflicts and for peacekeeping missions. These aspects are, in part, barely considered in international conflict resolution mechanisms and their importance for sustainably overcoming conflict and achieving peaceful (re-)construction underestimated.

This involves changing gender images and relations in crises and conflict situations. Depending on the government’s (in)ability to function, the tasks and fields of activity of women and men, and thus their relationships to one another, change in times of crises. This is linked to identity conflicts which prove especially problematical for men when they are unable to continue to fulfil their traditional and usual gender role. If men then react by restricting their masculinity concept to militarised masculinity, the risk increases of their taking armed action against "enemies" and/or weaker persons on the outside, while directing their violence against women and children on the inside. They thus seek to prove that they are still “real” men (cf. Chris Dolan on North Uganda, 2002; Marina Blagojevic on former Yugoslavia).

Against this backdrop, the presently applied intervention and conflict resolution strategies and concepts for ending armed conflicts and wars through international (UN or EU) missions have been found not to produce lasting effects, as has been shown by Paul Higate among others. Male UN or EU peacekeepers often represent comparably hegemonic masculine roles as can be seen by the rise in prostitution, trafficking of women and rape which occur in virtually every environment of international missions. On the one hand, this is perceived by the local men as competition from other countries and cultures and as an attack on their masculine identity. On the other, it also affects women and family structures. In this way, superficial "pacification" in one area is paid for by new strife – sustainability and future viability fall by the wayside.

One consequence of these hegemonic, militarised images of masculinity is sexualised violence in armed conflicts. It has taken a long time for such violence to be publicly recognised as part of sometimes even systematic warfare and for the brutal violence committed against women and girls to be prosecuted as a crime. One issue which remains virtually unaddressed, however, is that of boys and men falling victim to these mass assaults, which is widespread according to the latest findings by conflict researchers. This holds true for former Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Afghanistan and numerous other hot spots of conflict, and is a particularly taboo subject as it runs counter to traditional images of masculinity. The “taboo within the taboo” is the term coined by Dubravka Zarkov, a sociologist who has researched the rape of men during the Balkan wars. Men as victims of sexualised violence – this poses a threat to the myth that men are capable of defending themselves and are invulnerable, all the more so when such violence is carried out by women. The topos of women as victims (to be protected by men) and men as warriors and fighters (and/or perpetrators) is thus destroyed. Present research assumes that male victims of sexualised violence are especially likely to turn into perpetrators. In order to break this circle of violence, it is therefore essential for this topic and problem to be put on the agenda both by the international community and the individual organisations and countries intervening in regions of conflict. On top of this, when it comes to broaching the issue of women as victims, an attempt is often made to undermine their status as experts. And not only that: the example of Afghanistan, among others, demonstrates that the status of women as victims and the violation of women’s/human rights is used by the international community as justification for a military-based intervention policy.

This conference aims to address these problems and aspects and develop and discuss suitable ways out of this situation as well as possible solutions and strategies.

We, the organisers, the GWI together with the WSC and women for peace worldwide, hope that this process will not only produce insights into the issue and result in a continuation of analyses and capacity building relating to the above-mentioned and little regarded problems: militarised masculinities and men/boys as victims. We also ultimately want to formulate specific demands and recommendations directed at those with political responsibility both in the Federal Republic of Germany and the EU as well as in regional and international political organisations such as the UN and NATO to actively apply UN Resolutions 1325 et. seq. This also includes developing prospects for cooperation between policy-makers and civil society organisations. We furthermore aim to forge strategic (inter)national alliances – with the explicit integration of men and men’s organisations – which seek to systematically include women and the gender perspective into a peace and security policy, and also aim to raise awareness among the broader general public of the outlined problems.

We want to achieve this through a variety of methods and approaches. With this in mind, the prepared workshops and forums will be closed to the broader public. They are designated for experts with experience in tackling these problems and who wish to continue working on them specifically for their own fields of work. For those members of the broader public interested in such topics, we will be showing selected films on the individual issues and/or regions which will run parallel to the work groups and forums. We also look forward to being able to show parts of the exhibition held in New York and Berne on how UNSCR 1325 has progressed and developed.

Finally, I would like to thank all those who have contributed in one way or another to organising the conference, these being Ute Scheub, representing the German Women Security Council and peace women around the world, Ruth Streicher and Yvonne Everhartz, as well as members of the GWI and our colleagues from the international department and the regional offices of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

I wish all those taking part in the conference an insightful conference, stimulating discussions and work streams and hope that you will leave here with new ideas on how to further apply your commitment to peace policy.

Gitti Hentschel, Executive Director of GWI and WSC Steering Group


iSwanee Hunt, Cristina Posa: Foreign Policy, July 2004
iiDavid Bloomfield/Ben Reilly, Characteristics of Deep-Rooted Conflict, quoted from: Report on the Participation of Women in Peaceful Conflict Resolution (2000/2005(INI)) 2000, submitted by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament, p. 27
iii Elisabeth Rehn/Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Women, War and Peace, UNIFEM (ed.), New York. 2002.
iv Women, War and Peace, p. 79.
ve.g. the mentioned NAs of the member States of the UN as well as UNSCR S/2010/173 of 6 April 2010 “Women and peace and security; Report of the Secretary General” – which recommends 26 indicators to the Member States of the United Nations, international organisations and the UN itself – and also to a related working paper drafted by the informal EU Task Force “Women, Peace and Securityt” of 2010 on “Indikatoren für den umfassenden Ansatz für die Umsetzung der Resolutionen 1325 und 1820 des Sicherheitsrats der Vereinten Nationen betreffend Frauen, Frieden und Sicherheit durch die EU” which defines 17 indicators for the EU on the basis of which progress and the need for action to be taken on the implementation of the UN Resolutions should be measured